How difficult was the decision to drop Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard?
Very difficult. I can tell you it went on for two days. We even suspended it to give a chance to think about things and so on. There were a lot of discussions. But then you get to a point where you say, right, this is where we want to go. It is very difficult for people to understand or to accept. But we want to move on. We want to move on with a new captain. And introducing younger players wherever possible, those who are doing well in our competitions because as I said, we want to reward people for the way they have played.
What made you decide to drop them?
We have quite a few allrounders. You have to think of who you should stay with. We have a young Andre Russell. I think he is a very good prospect, but he has to still prove himself, too. If he doesn’t, he might go out of the window. Anybody in the side who does not perform as we expect, we will keep doing that until we get the right blend of players.
Are you saying that these two guys were not performing and you had to take a call?
We had to make a call on who to leave out. Bravo probably might have better stats than Pollard. There were so many things we had to look at and then we came up with this situation. And this is what we felt would be right at the time (to drop the two). It is not as if they have been thrown away. There is a chance for them to come back and get into the side because there is a lot of cricket coming up.
But Pollard and Bravo are fourth and fifth in terms of ODI runs scored after 2011 World Cup, and now?
I don’t think they have had any exceptional performances. Nobody (of the pair) has got exceptional performances as far as (playing for) West Indies is concerned. They have been there and thereabouts. We really and truly want to pick people on what they have done for our cricket and not anywhere else. We have looked at all of that. We were saying if we have all these top-class players then we should be in a better position – not at No. 8 in the world for the last 10 years. We want people to go out there now and think “Hey, we want to get up that ladder.” If you don’t then we will continue to chop and change until we find the right combination.
As valid as your justification might sound, wouldn’t critics and fans wonder if there was any victimisation?
No, no. That is not the way I live. I don’t believe in things in that nature at all. There is no axe to grind with these guys. There are other people that could have. You know we could have said, “What about X, what about Y?” This is the combination we came up with. And I am not one of those people who are going to direct to me what to do. I take orders from me, and nobody else. I am not into that situation where I will be worrying about what happened in India. That is past. That is gone. We are moving on.
How much did the India tour abandonment matter?
It hurt because that (tour) was part of our building process. We were trying to get a good Test side to play against India and then we would have been better prepared for South Africa and at the same time, we would have got the World Cup squad that we wanted. But all that was disrupted and we had to start rebuilding against the best team in the world. It is very difficult. You know the stats with our players are not great. Most World Cup players are averaging 20 and 30 and they would not get in any other side really. That is because the cupboard is bare. I am talking about our top-class players – their averages are not that good in all types of cricket.
If the India tour were to go on, do you think these two players might have been in a better position to hold their places in the World Cup squad?
I don’t know. There again, we looked at our squad and looked at where we wanted to go in terms of the captain, the players, and whether we should continue with them. It is not just because of India. We were looking at where we are standing at the moment in Test matches and ODIs. We are really down there with the same players. So we have to have a change. I know the World Cup is important but we will go with these guys. I don’t believe that we don’t have good young cricketers. We have got some good, young cricketers coming through. We want to provide the right guidance to unfurl them for the future. We want to change the system. It is not that we are back to square one. It is not business as usual. We are trying to change our thinking and our young players’ thinking.
You have made it clear you are your own man. But to what extent was the WICB involved at all in the decision making?
The WICB are backing us in everything we do. We have explained everything – to the board, to WIPA, to all who brought forth lawyers. We have explained that it is not a vindictive situation. I have never been like that, as a captain or a player. We are moving forward. And it is obvious that one or two people might suffer, but not to the extent that they will not be able to play for West Indies again. It is now for them to put in that effort, and say, “Right, I want to be more consistent. I want to see the West Indies team rising again.”
And you put all this in writing?
Oh, yes. That was done about a couple of weeks ago.
It might have come as surprise to see Chris Gayle, the first current player, raise his voice and say that West Indies are not carrying their best team to the World Cup.
He might think so, but the point is that he is not a selector. He is a player. I have the greatest respect for him. But he will have to read what we are trying to do. He is part of that team that is going forward. Once he has been told what the situation is he will understand what we are doing. It is obvious that he has played with these guys and he might say that that we are not playing the best team. He might think so. We think we have a good side. Once they play to the best of their ability I am sure that they can give a good account of themselves.
Did you meet Bravo and Pollard in South Africa?
Yes, I spoke to them in Cape Town. They understand what the situation is. Don’t forget, these guys have been playing for West Indies for a while. And they will be disappointed. But they have a chance of redeeming themselves and getting back into our cricket in the future. One is 31 (Bravo) and the other is 27 or 28 (Pollard).
Did they ask you any questions?
Oh, yes, Quite a few. And they have the right to do so, to find out the reasons and so on. I presume they are disappointed. And they will be. And they should be. They have realised where we are going and they will be part of our future once they continue for us.
Why did you pick Jason Holder as the captain?
This was something that happened before in the sense that I have spoken to him when he was quite young. And I liked his vision and what he stood for. This guy has left IPL and come and played for West Indies, and Barbados. So he is a dedicated sort of a player. Not saying that the others are not, but he is an intelligent young man. And I think he has leadership qualities that will show soon. It is not Clive Lloyd thinking so. It is the selectors thinking so.
But did you not think of giving it to guys like Marlon Samuels, or even Gayle for that matter?
They have had their chance. Marlon has just come back into the side. We started about five months ago. We are picking up the pieces from the last set of selectors. Marlon Samuels is the vice-captain to Jason Holder. It is quite all right. I do not think they find it any difficult because most of the players do like Jason and the way he approaches his game. He is a very likeable young man. And that is what you need as a leader.
Why was Darren Sammy recalled after initially not being part of the South Africa ODI squad, and later for the World Cup?
That is what people are saying. Sammy was always in there. He is a tremendous cricketer. He has good stats. He is a good leader. He retired from Test cricket, so he wants to play ODIs and we are sticking with that. We are quite happy with the way he has been conducting the side at the moment.
You have raised your concerns about Caribbean players going and playing in various domestic Twenty20 leagues. Are you looking at people who are totally committed to West Indies cricket? Players who are available?
It is quite obvious that you will have to look for people who will be playing for you as often as possible. We have central contracts which some people sign, and some don’t want to. You don’t have to. But the point is, when we want you to be playing and you are not available, then other people will be chosen. We are not saying that you shouldn’t go on and EARN MONEY elsewhere but you must show some loyalty to our cricket.
Interestingly Dwayne Bravo has been offered a retainer contract. That is very curious..
Doesn’t that tell you about something? He has been given a central contract. So that means he has not been thrown out. That is what should be talked about. We want people to feel they are still part of our cricket.
Gayle and Sunil Narine declined the contracts. Did they mention any specific reasons?
You can. You have that prerogative to decline a contract. As we are saying, when the cricket comes then we will know if you are interested in playing for us or not.
What is the vision of your selection panel?
My vision is to get our team right back up that ladder in ODIs and Test cricket. Getting people interested in playing for West Indies and who want to show their loyalty there. I want to see a better West Indies performance all around. West Indies cricket means quite a lot to me. I love it dearly. And I want people to do the same thing. Now cricketers are being well paid, very well paid. I only want those people to make our cricket important.
We have been in the same place with the same players. We want players interested in West Indies cricket and make sure West Indies cricket is important. West Indies cricket is important to me – it has given me my upward mobility. These guys are doing well. We are not stopping anybody from playing anywhere. The point is we want you to play for West Indies as often as possible, to make yourself available. I don’t think it is right for any captain to be deprived of the best players at all times. It is not fair on a captain. We don’t want to stop you going to different parts to EARN MONEY, but you must be ready to play for us whenever we have our cricket. And I don’t see that as difficult.
We were champions for 18 years or more. And we haven’t moved (from) that bottom rung other than having won that Twenty20 (World Twenty20). We want people now to be interested in our cricket. We want them to watch our cricket, more people to play it. And you will not be encouraged to play cricket if you are way down at the bottom. That is our batting aim. We have been given a job to try and change West Indies cricket and change all aspects of it and that is what we are trying to do.